Ask Dr. David

Florida Vaccine Exemptions… Are They Going Away?

August 30, 2019

Many in our Wholistic Pediatrics & Family Care community have heard about the recently introduced Florida Senate Bill (SB64), which calls for an elimination of religious exemptions and requires all medical exemptions to be reviewed by a panel of physicians to determine if they deem the exemption worthy.  It is unknown whether this bill will gain traction and make it through committees to a vote, and/or if the Florida House will pursue it as well (we hear rumblings that there is not much appetite for this bill in the House). Regardless, it is concerning enough that I felt I should share some thoughts about the issue and let you know I am working with organizations and lobbyists to fight this bill. Please follow us on social media where we will post suggested actions, if necessary.

In the meantime, we have been getting many questions about what qualifies for a medical exemption. I can only answer those  questions relative to the current law, since there is no way to predict how the proposed review board would interpret the exemption laws and decide what they would deem a “legitimate” exemption. 

What I can tell you is that under current law we are comfortable providing medical exemptions for vaccines based on those  listed by the CDC for each particular vaccine. This information can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/should-not-vacc.html.

Additionally, temporary medical exemptions can be used to get a patient caught up on state-mandated vaccines. As for school enrollment, students need only have “commenced a schedule to complete.” For example, a single vaccine with documentation stating  when the other vaccines will be given is sufficient for school enrollment.

Exemptions can also be granted if blood tests that check for immunity are shown to be protective against a particular disease. These tests, called “IgG titers,” measure the amount of long-term antibodies in a  person’s bloodstream, and could only be present if the patient is immune to that specific disease due to previously having the disease or having received prior vaccinations for the disease. Positive measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox titers should always be accepted. Unfortunately, most labs will only run titers for polio types 1 and 3, since type 2 has been eradicated; yet the Hillsborough Health Department has informed me they will only accept polio titers if all 3 types are tested and have documented immunity. Additionally, pertussis, diphtheria, and tetanus titers are not accepted in support of an exemption because they are considered to not provide long-term protection;  thus, the reason for recommending ongoing booster shots throughout a person’s life.

Hopefully all of this will blow over with no changes…..but stay tuned!

Dr. David